Adam Bird

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Monday, 14 November 2011

Pink, Precious and a Whole Bunch of Pride

Phoebe Anne Bird

The human body is an amazing machine, the mechanics of thought, the intricacies and subtle nuances of the mind which stand us out as individuals as well as our own bodies carved out to provide us with our own identities aren’t things we consider on a routine basis. But last week, I witnessed my wife bring my daughter into the world and once again, reaffirmed for me just how blessed and precious life really is.

Phoebe Anne Bird was born on Wednesday 9th of November 2011 after a short, sharp labour that was in stark contrast to her older brother who took twenty-nine hours to reach us back in 2006. I only had Oliver’s birth as a guide to the whole process and as detailed here, it wasn’t an experience that I particularly enjoyed, purely for the duration and the feeling as a husband of being very much a spare part.

An awful lot has changed in the five years that Oliver was born and I am sorry to say, not for the better. With local hospitals closing and birthing policies amended our second experience was a rather different affair.

I was woken, once again by Stephanie in the early hours of the morning. At one o’clock she informed me that her waters had broken, that she had called the hospital and that her mum was on her way around. I was to get ready, which I did, rather less enthusiastically than last time around as I believed I had the next two days to prepare myself. I also packed a small bag of provisions as light entertainment to keep me occupied; an iPad, a few books, War and Peace and the entire back catalogue of 24 just in case.

Stephanie experienced her first set of contractions en-route to Darent Valley, which would normally have meant the hospital saying it was too early for us and to stay at home. But Stephanie had been carrying a lot of water during the pregnancy, the hospital were concerned and fortunately for us, that was the reason we were making our way rather than waiting patiently at home in our lounge.

On arrival at the hospital and after a brief examination, it was found that Stephanie was 2cm dilated, another measurement that would normally have meant being sent home, but as it was, the water issue saved us again and we were found a bed after an hours wait on the ward. All the time that this was happening, Stephanie was having contractions closer and closer together and at each one a further wave of pain was causing her further discomfort. This was the first warning sign registering in my mind that we were dealing with something very different to what we had experienced with Oliver.

Once we were on the ward, a room of four beds that contained two sleeping mothers I was acutely aware that this was now happening. I hadn’t needed bother with my array of boredom busting devices, my hand was needed again; either to rub gently Stephanie’s back, mop her brow or allow it to be squeezed ever so violently as a mechanism for coping with the pain. The midwife, not quite so up to speed as I was offered Stephanie two pain killers in an effort to stem the tide of pain, which was akin to using a plaster for an amputated leg.

After another half hour wait the midwife popped by again for another inspection and had a sudden “oh no” realisation that I had an hour previously. She disappeared rapidly and popped back two minutes later wheeling out the gas and air which Stephanie guzzled quite thirstily to get through another hours worth of contractions. The poor sleeping ladies on the ward probably were not sleeping very soundly at this point as Stephanie bravely coped with everything that was happening as quietly as possible, which wasn’t really very quiet at all. I just hope that the two ladies had already given birth and were not in on an overnight stay due to some complication as the fear of given birth would only have been heightened listening to Stephanie’s gasps and cries.

After a healthy dose of gas and air, the midwife and nurse were starting to monitor the baby and were, for a few moments worried about the heart rate, which had dipped to less that half of what it should be. Stephanie, totally drunken from the pain relief was still of a sound state of mind telling the staff at the bedside that they needed to make sure that they were clear when they were talking to me as I was hard of hearing and that they needed to shout, not that she needed to, it was clear to me exactly what was going on. Stephanie was in labour and we were still on the ward.

I asked the midwife what would happen, would we be giving birth where we were right then. She said no, but I wasn’t as convinced as she made out to be. After a while on the gas and air, the contractions were coming quicker and sharper, Stephanie was starting to push. The midwife wasn’t happy “don’t push Stephanie, I will be really cross if you push, we are not ready yet” but there is no way of stopping once nature and the human body have started the wheels in motion. The baby was coming and it was coming now.

As soon as it became clear to the midwife that things were now in action stations we were on the move. We never made it to a delivery suite, but instead, we were wheeled down the corridor to the recovery room where women are brought after having a cesarean. Hardly the most suitably place for a child to be born, but a hundred times better than on a ward with an audience.

At this stage of the proceedings, time is no longer recorded. We could have been there for five minutes, we could have been there a week, but whatever happened in that space of time, I have nothing but admiration for Stephanie and what she went through. Clearly scared and clearly in a lot of pain she told me that she loved me and that she loved Oliver. She was in a state of such severe emotional detachment that she honestly believed that she was about to die.

Now I know that there may be people reading this who are pregnant or have given birth in a manner that was a whole lot different to the experience we had. But in writing a personal blog, I have to be as true to the experience as I can possibly be. What Stephanie and I went through is by no means the norm, it’s simply an event that happened to us.

If previously, or up until that moment I felt like something of a spare part I finally felt a sense of worth. My role was more than just a hand in which Stephanie could squeeze. I was there to look into her eyes, which were on stalks outside of her head as she pushed, or reassure her that everything is fine when the little army of people standing at the foot of the bed are wearing faces of concern and rushing around at the behest of the little general that barks instructions to the people around her. I could see the baby as she made her way out, unaware of sex or what was happening on any technical level - but it didn’t matter at that point, Stephanie still needed to make one final monumental effort.

Which she did and out came the baby at exactly 6:45am, which was flopped onto Stephanie's stomach as one of the nurses cut the cord. The baby was purple and to my mind, not moving. Then it was gone. I hadn’t seen what we had and as Stephanie had already found out during an earlier scan she told me that we’d had a little girl - but I thought that we’d lost her.

When Oliver was born, he too was taken away, but we didn’t even have the opportunity to see him before he was taken to resuscitation, which was directly behind me in the same room. I had no fear then, I could see what was happening, but this time around I really did fear the worse. There was a brief moment of unknowing. The nurse in the room with us was reassuring, but in my mind, she’d just spent the previous goodness knows how long telling Stephanie that everything was great and wonderful so I took it as nurse speak for the worse kind of news.

A short while later, someone came back into the room, asked me if I’d like to see her. “Is she okay, is everything all right?” I asked, and yes, she was. She was fine, needed a little puff of oxygen. She’d been through a lot. So I asked Stephanie, can I go, and I did, walked off out of the room into the room opposite with a whole bundle of emotion that I had no names for. Which was really strange as when I saw my little girl lying in a little crib I was hit by a load more and I still don’t have names for those either.

She was wide awake, wrapped up snug in a hospital issue blanket and her eyes were open as wide as they could go. Looking up at me as I said “hello, I’m your Daddy”, barely audible through the tears and sobs of relief as I realised how scared I’d previously been.

When Oliver was born, I shared that first cuddle with him and held him, staring at the wonder of it all as Stephanie was being repaired and I did the same for Phoebe too. There was a definite difference between the two, the macho bravado and the “that’s my boy” attitude with Oliver compared to the pride and preciousness of holding your little girl for the first time and promising her that you will do your utmost to look after her. But the one thing that has stayed the same, that’s my full and unwavering respect and admiration for my wife. What she went through, the fear, the pain to provide me with the two greatest gifts a man can have. I have no answer for that, other than the ones that I made on the 11th of September last year.

Together, we have everything that we have ever wished for and we are incredibly blessed, fortunate and lucky people, we appreciate and are massively thankful for that. If I stopped and thought about it, asked myself why, I’d go a little mad, so I won’t and will instead continue to be eternally grateful.

And finally, on behalf of both of us, we would like to thank everyone for all the well wishes, beautiful pink things, flowers and cards. We have such amazing friends and family and we thank you each and everyone of you.

2 comments:

Nonna Blog said...

That was so touching, Adam.

Your line 'holding your little girl for the first time and promising her that you will do your utmost to look after her' reminds me of that episode of Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy becomes a dad and holds his son for the first time, telling him 'This is what it's all about'.

Francesca

Adam Bird said...

You should have seen me on the gas and air Francesca, now that was right up Delboys street ;-)

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